Graduate student wellness initiatives

On Thursday, February 25 the Graduate Student Association-UW hosted a Graduate Student Wellness Roundtable to dicuss the ways in which university administration is prioritizing graduate student wellness on our campus.  Speakers included:

  • Jennifer McCorriston from the Wellness Collaborative Advisory Commitee
  • John Hirdes from the Commitee of Student Mental Health
  • Cheri Bilitz from Counselling Services
  • Jeff Casello from Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs

A video event of the recording is coming soon.  In the meantime, here is summary of the Graduate Student Wellness Intiatives that are supported by Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs, which were highlighted at the roundtable.

What is Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA)?

GSPA's core functions include:

  • Marketing and Recruitment - working with faculties to articulate the strengths of graduate programs at Waterloo, to attract and recruit students;
  • Admissions - receiving and processing applicants’ files and coordinating admissions with the faculties;
  • Student funding and awards - coding student financial support – GRSs and Awards – through Quest;
  • Student information Systems and Records - operationalizing and updating the University’s student information systems and managing graduate student records
  • Communications - communicating with graduate students and maintaining the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar.

GSPA’s unwritten mandate is to lead and support the creation of a campus community that catalyzes exceptional experiences for and among graduate students (and postdoctoral scholars). 

This involves: 

  • Streamlining logistics with end goal of providing more timely and responsive student services;
  • Creating university Policy through a student-focused lens;
  • Advancing student-focused initiatives through formal university committees;
  • Providing timely support for students at various stages in their careers;
  • Developing and programming community-enhancing activities and opportunities for research dissemination;
  • Establishing and reinforcing expectations that create a culture of student support throughout graduate studies.

In what ways does GSPA support graduate student wellness?

Graduate funding aimed at supporting student wellness

Graduate student - supervisory relationships

GSPA has been active in promoting positive relationships between students and supervisors, and in creating supports for students in transition.  These include:

GSPA and graduate students with extenuating circumstances

GSPA has worked with partners to improve the way in which graduate students who are experiencing unique challenges are supported academically.  These include:

  • Working with AccessAbility Services to ensure that accommodations related to graduate milestones were expressly considered;
  • Developing a petitions process that ensures the privacy of graduate students’ medical information for students seeking exemptions from academic regulations;
  • Clarifying motivations for and processes related to student program extensions beyond term limits;
  • Creating thesis embargo regulations that protect students’ identities for situations where the student may be at risk;
  • Supporting the University’s Registrar’s Office to provide student agency in the articulation of preferred and legal names.